When it comes to cyberattacks, prevention should be the top priority, and there are several ways to execute this. Sometimes, however, hacks can occur without clever phishing campaigns or actors who manipulate you into handing over your credentials. A hacked email can have serious consequences including invading your privacy resulting in identity theft, a threat to your finances, and even your business’s reputation. Signs that your account has been hacked include: being unable to log into your email account, your sent folder includes messages that you did not send or has been deleted, as well as your saved contacts receiving messages that you didn’t send with malicious links or fraudulent requests for money. This article will demonstrate the best practices for preventing a hacker from breaking into your email, how to recover your credentials, and what to do once you’ve successfully regained access.
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Protect Your Email From Being Hacked
Targeting email accounts are a priority for hackers for a series of reasons, one of which being that each account contains private and sensitive information that can be exploited to commit fraud
The best ways to keep your account safe are:
- Use strong passwords, typically longer equates with strength, and don’t use the same password on other platforms, as well as using a combination of uppercase, lowercase, and numbers and symbols
- To help keep your multiple passwords in good hands, use a password manager that works by storing your login credentials and automatically logs you in
- Installing and frequently updating anti-virus software helps by scanning and detecting malware in email attachments, drastically reducing the risk of exposure to ransomware
- Activating two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of protection for your email accounts, requiring an additional login credential
- Be wary of emails that seem suspicious, look out for things such as poor spelling and grammar, though phishing emails have evolved more sophisticated than in previous years
- A virtual private network, or VPN, works to connect your internet through a server while encrypting the transfer of data thus making your data untraceable
- Most Wi-Fi routers come standard with a name from the provider, renaming it makes it more difficult for hackers to know what type of router you’re using since the firmware of the router may be potentially vulnerable to exploitation
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi since it’s available to anyone and everyone, it puts your private information at risk of exposure
- Additionally, don’t treat public devices, or a friend’s for that matter like it’s your own. Avoid saving your password to the device or entering sites like online banking, and if you absolutely have to, make sure you log out
- Limit the amount of login attempts to keep a hacker from guessing your credentials. Email providers will usually allow you to set the number of attempts before the account is locked as well as give you the option to be notified if someone tried to log in
Recovering Your Email After Being Hacked
Some email providers offer tips on how to get back into your email, starting with updating your security software, scanning and removing any malware before restarting the device. If you’re able to log into your email or social media account, change your passwords immediately especially if you use a similar or the same password for other accounts. Don’t forget to check your account settings and for anything that might have changed. Cyberthieves may have forwarded themselves your email, allowing them access to your contacts’ email addresses. Lastly if you use a signature, make sure there weren’t any changes made
Steps After Getting Your Account Back
After successfully getting back into your email, you’ll likely want to keep from repeating the process. The first line of defense is you, avoid phishing emails that seem suspicious, confirm the legitimacy of the email and the sender, and don’t interact with links if you aren’t absolutely sure. Limit your social media usage as the information can be easily used to cybercriminal’s advantage. Bookmarking the websites you frequent can keep you from accidentally entering the wrong site, giving hackers the opportunity to deliver a malicious code or phishing link. Lastly, alert your contact list that your account was hacked and not to interact with any messages they may have received while your account was compromised.
Best practices involve security measures but begin with education and awareness. The damage cyberattackers can do on both a business and the individual is often significant, and it isn’t always easy to see coming. With this series of tips on how to prevent your email from being hacked, you can rest assured that your risk is at a minimum.
Justice Levine is the Communications Manager at Guardian Digital since the fall of 2021. He is responsible for overseeing all internal and external communications for the company. Having studied Communications and concentrating in the study of Journalism at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Justice is a driven and dedicated writer.